First, let me start with the basics. When Bylsma took over, the players loved him because he was an easy-going coach, not a dictator/general like Therrien was. Bylsma took over a ridiculously talented team that had quit on its former head coach. As a result, when he did take the reigns, the ridiculous talent started to play again, and they went on an amazing winning streak and won the cup. But I don't think Bylsma really brought anything to the table during the cup run.
The Pens main objective is to get the puck into the offensive zone and keep it there as long as possible. Where you can see it most is with the players Bylsma's system works the best for–the 'old' Third line of Cooke-
stallStaal-Kennedy. They are great keeping the puck in the offensive zone and grinding and cycling the puck down there. 'So what's the problem?' The problem is that while that play style works well for some players, it doesnt work well for the entire team.
So, those of you who know me know that I am going to start with Geno. But in my defense, I have to start with Geno to bring up an old Penguin: Petr Sykora. Ya, remember him?
People have been dogging Malkin the past year and a half about his 'lack' of production. Well let's take a look at that. If you look up the stats, his GPG has remained steady his entire career at around .41.
Sykora was in the middle of his second 25-30 goal season with the Pens when Bylsma took over but everyone also got on Sykora when his production dropped in the months afterward. Sykora is a sniper–not a grinder, and Bylsma was forcing him into playing his system–chasing the one sniper we had one the team to an early career death in Minnesota.
Instead of leaving the Malkin-Sykora group that was obviously doing fine alone, Bylsma and his one-track mind tried to force them into his system, and Geno's Points have suffered for it. He no longer has a winger who can finish his amazing plays in the offense zone. Geno is a playmaker, not a sniper. He has always had more assists than goals (like all playmakers in the NHL) and he needs someone to finish those plays.
Ok, now for the more important part to everyone who isn't as concerned as I am about Geno's stats. Everyone has also been complaining about the powerplay the past year and a half, or the powerplay since Bylsma took over. Well once again we can look to his one-track mind of grinding and fore-check.
He tried to force Sykora from his usual sniping position into a grinder and Sykora (as we all know) sucks as a grinder. So we lost the sniper we had on the team. Well on the PowerPlay, Sykora was 2nd on the team in PPG, (behind only Lord Geno), scoring 15 and 13 PPG a season respectively for the 2 years he was here. And people wonder where the PowerPlay went. After he forced Sykora from the team, he put Malkin in Sykora's place at the point as the goal-scorer for the PowerPlay.
So there you go. I knew there was a reason I didn't like Bylsma, but I could never really put my finger on it. I have no proof of it, but people who knew me know that I wasn't a fan of Bylsma when he first came to coach the penguins. I wasn't ready to give any credit to him for the huge roll the pens went on. Admittedly, part of that was I felt we shouldn't fire a head coach who took us the the cup finals a year beforehand just because our team quit on him. (Well, most of the team. Geno obviously didn't quit on him. crazy numbers that year.) I'm not saying that Therrien was a great coach or anything, but I feel an now out-dated notion of loyalty in sports to players/coaches who did well for us in the past. (I'm still a fan of Jagr, and I always hated the booing of him when he came to town. Like I said, out-dated notion.)
Now turning down the drama, the pens are fine with Bylsma. This isn't meant to be a 'fire Bylsma' rant (even if it seems to come across like that a little). Like I said, I'm not particularly a fan of Bylsma, but I don't want him fired. He did win us a Cup–even if I think he had nothing to do with it. (there's that whole loyalty thing again). This is more of stop blaming some players when they are doing nothing wrong. Mainly Geno and Sykora.
I loved Sykora when he was here, and he got shafted by the fans and management alike when Bylsma took over. He was not meant to play that system. Ever. And Malkin-Sykora was doing fine until Bylsma decided to mess with it. Ever since he made that decision, both Malkin and Sykora have been taking the heat for it.
That's what I'm bitching about–stop attacking Sykora and Malkin when they aren't the ones to blame. Just like how people were attacking Fleury last year even though he had no Defensive-D Men in front of him (well 1–Free Candy). Every Goalie not named Patrick Roy is going to struggle without a D in front of him. Yet when the Pens lost, Fluery is the one to take the heat.